Have I mentioned that our child has never (yes, that's what I said), never slept through the night?
Don't get me wrong, I say that without the expectation of any sympathy whatsoever. Husband and I are fully aware that a lot of the elements of our nighttime routine have created that dynamic. There was the co-sleeping and the lying with him until he falls asleep at night and then going into his room when he wakes up in the wee hours and lying down with him until he falls asleep again. Were I not such a
devoted mother lazy shit, I know I could definitely get up after he falls back to sleep and sneak back to the comfort of my own bed. Which would be nice, because Husband rarely twists and turns with such exuberance that I wake to find his cold, clammy feet pressing insistently against my neck.
But really, I've learned--my kid doesn't sleep through the night. If I were to get up and go back to my room, even if I could successfully extricate myself from his pudgy-fingered clutches and tiptoe out of his room without being detected, I know that the second I fall back to sleep in my own bed, he will stir in his, and finding the bed beside him empty, the cycle will start over and I will spend all night running a one-woman relay race from my bed to his. So in an effort to get a "good night's sleep" (ha!), I just say "eff it" and curl up in Ethan's bed when he first wakes up sometime around midnight. I have a hard time falling asleep before that because my internal clock knows that he will wake up sometime soon, and nodding off while you're expecting the pot to boil is not easy feat.
None of this really here nor there in terms of my post, but it's a little bit of background. As much as Husband and I lovelovelovelovelove Ethan, we also love it when he goes to sleep at night. Because then for a couple of hours we can
quality time with each other gaze vacantly at the television (which is finally set to something besides Noggin), trying not to drool. I used to be so much smarter, really. I used to read newspapers (do they even exist anymore?) and do crossword puzzles. Now I scan CNN's tweets on my Tweetdeck and absentmindedly play Scramble on Facebook while I watch that pilot guy kiss a bunch of skanks under the guise of "I'm trying to find a wife!" (hello, Bachelor, I'm talking to you).
So Husband and I are knee-deep in chagrin here as we enter this next phase of nighttime parenting. The preschooler dawdle. That turns into the preschooler tantrum. That turns what was a 25 minute bedtime routine into an hour-long battle of wills that is the parental equivalent of being water-boarded by your 3 year old.
First, Husband and I give the countdown to bedtime. "Ten more minutes, Ethan!" At this point, since E isn't able to tell time, Husband and I feel free to adapt the time-continuum to suit our purposes. When only two minutes have elapsed since the first warning, we might say, "Five more minutes, kiddo." Or, if he's playing nicely and happily, sometimes we will wait ten minutes before saying, "Five more minutes, kiddo." Yes, we are drunk with power. Oblivious to the countdown until he hears, "Okay, buddy time for bed!" he is likely to, at that point, flip his proverbial top and scream that he is not ready for bed. He has found that running and hiding in a tiny little corner of his play room or into the guest room and slamming the door is an effective way of prolonging this process, so guess what? He does that. While screaming.
Fine. So he loses a book for that. Normally (ha, what's "normally"?!) he gets three books at bedtime. He loses one each time he pushes the boundaries to the point of making Husband and me mental. He gets the chance to re-earn the book from that moment on. Some nights he earns the books back. More often than not lately, he ends up losing all his books and that makes for a LUNATIC child who refuses to go to sleep. So this is really not working for us.
Once he's in bed, there is the predictable, "I need some water." If he is given water, he needs more water. If he isn't given water, see the above LUNATIC child who refuses to go to sleep thing. Then, if Husband is with him, he wants me. If I am with him, he wants Husband. Briefly (and by briefly I mean for about an hour one night) we gave into this musical parent routine and found ourselves going in and out of his room like a revolving door before agreeing that it was madness. So now he gets who he gets. And whoever he gets, gets an hour of screaming.
So internet, I ask you, for the well-being of my sanity and my
quality time couch-monkey time with Husband, what do you recommend? I ask that with the caveat that walking out of his room and letting him scream it out on his own really isn't an option. It's just not something Husband and I will ever be comfortable doing AND I don't really want to spend my evening washing vomit out of sheets. Because that's how that scenario will end.
I'm trying to see this experience through his eyes and figure out what he's trying to accomplish with this change of behavior, or what he's reacting against that is suddenly different in his eyes. I want to find a way to make bedtime something we both enjoy rather than something that makes our last feelings of our day together miserable. I know I'm going to spend most of my overnights in his room until he says, "Ugh, mom, go sleep in your own bed, will ya?" But I'd like not to have to spend an hour in there every night even before he goes to sleep.